Over the years, Gun Tests Magazine has reviewed more than 25 concealable pistols chambered in 380 ACP. Of these compact and subcompact handguns, here are our top five 380 handguns that our experienced testers believe you’ll like if you want to buy a handgun of this type.
As always, Gun Tests Magazine is supported by reader subscriptions only, so you can depend on these recommendations being free of monetization considerations on our posts or videos or social media traffic, and we don’t accept display advertising in the magazine. The sole basis for these recommendations is how the pistols worked during our testing with various shooters and various ammunition. If you’re in the market for a smaller 380 ACP handgun, here’s how we’d spend our money:
This is a perennial winner in our 380 wrap-ups. Long out of production, this specific model is absolutely worth looking for at gun shows, pawn shops, and on line, but be prepared to pay more for one in tiptop condition. In our test, it did not suffer any type of stoppage. It was reliable, well made, and perhaps even overbuilt.
We liked the Springfield 911. Unlike the full-size 1911 it mimics, the Springfield is suited to carrying hammer down instead of cocked and locked, an important consideration for pocket carry. We are generally not comfortable with the power level of the 380 ACP; however, loads like the Black Hills Ammunition Honey Badger and the Federal HST make the cartridge much more attractive than the previous choice of ball ammunition or a JHP that underpenetrates. The pistol is a joy to fire and use. It is more than accurate enough for personal defense.
If you like cocked-and-locked carry, or even hammer down in the pocket, then you should make room for the Baby Rock, because it is quite a shooter. In combat drills there were no malfunctions of any type, and the pistol fired 100 rounds of mixed ammunition without issue. In combat firing, the pistol was far more accurate than pocket pistols. At 5 yards, a smooth DAO trigger is good enough for center hits, but by the time you get to 10 yards, the heavier weight of this solid-feeling 380 and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression of the single-action lockwork are great advantages over DAOs.
The visible rear notch and front post of the Ruger are a big help in delivering accurate fire, we found. Although designed purely for personal defense, the Ruger is accurate enough to pop a rodent or reptile at a few yards, which is always an advantage. The Ruger was a compact package, with a length of 5.2 inches and a height of 3.8 inches, and it was only 0.8 inch thick. The frame was polymer. The recoil spring was tight, even stiff, but this is the price you have to pay for a small locked-breech pistol.
Originally tested in the August 2018 issue, we said then that the EZ was “EZ-ily among the most useful and attractive 380 ACP pistols we have tested” and gave it an A grade. In the July 2022 issue, we gave it an A- and said, it was a “good choice for home defense for those who cannot handle a larger chambering. As a carry gun, it isn’t smaller than some 9mm Luger handguns, but it is much easier to fire well. The demerit is for its power and terminal ballistics, and it is not a small gap.” The half-grade markdown was for the chambering, not the gun, which was compared to other EZ models chambered in 30 Super Carry and 9mm Luger. If you want a 380 ACP, this Shield is an EZ choice to make.
Note: All prices reflect actual retail purchase prices at the time of testing. Prices will likely have changed. Older pistols may still be available as NIB products or as used handguns.
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